Saturday, July 28, 2007

The War Racket: How Americans Pay for Bush's War Crimes at the Bank, the Pump, the Shop & the Graveside

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Bush had hoped to pull off a quick victory cheap. But nothing worked out as hoped or planned. The American people are stuck with the tab, paying for the war with high hidden taxes, higher prices and American lives. The cost of Bush's war crime has tripled since Bush declared the end of major combat operations. The American people are not safer for having sacrificed the lives of loved ones. The war on terrorism is either a criminal fraud or a miserable failure and I challenge my critics at the Heritage Foundation to debate me on that issue.

War is a racket fought by the masses for privileged elites, big corporations, and venal politicians like Bush. Bush's quagmire is fought for the benefit of no-bid contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater and financed by America's working poor and middle classes who pay for the war —with their lives abroad and with their jobs, their retirement prospects, and their access to health care at home. Bush's base —the nation's elite, his corporate sponsors, and the so-called defense industry —have paid nothing, risked nothing! Rather —they feed at the trough. The upper one percent of the population has gotten several tax cuts while the big oil companies report record profits rising concurrently with higher prices at the pump.
Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. ... We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Hoping for Fear, by Paul Krugman, Using Fear Commentary, NY Times
There are big profits in the death business. Go to Texas and ask the CEO at DynCorp.
The war in Iraq has boosted DynCorp's revenues, responsible for about $400 million of the company's nearly $2 billion in sales. And while the company didn't specify how much the effort has added to profits, there has certainly been an upside, Lagana said, although he added that profit margins are lower than in other private industry -- often below 10 percent.

For government contractors and other US-based businesses that are doing work in Iraq, the war there has continued to provide opportunity and benefits, although experts and companies alike say they are difficult to quantify. To be sure, security businesses, oil producers and defense contractors are among the biggest winners. Those who manufacture key products, from bulletproof vests to bullets themselves, and, more recently, those involved in reconstruction, have reaped the benefits, too.

--Businesses find benefits, costs in war work
Over the longer term, however, the effects of Bush's war against the people of Iraq war are only temporary, benefiting the entire economy only for a short period of time, the period of time in which the pump is primed. On the whole, the effect is minimal. Average Americans have not benefited from mass murder, torture, and other atrocities perpetrated by the "state". As Economic Policy Institute economist Jared Bernstein noted, whatever economic stimulus war might have provided becomes increasingly less significant over time. Defense spending had a big effect on job growth in 2004, but its effect since that time is relatively small. Wealth, however ill-gotten does not trickle down.

The number of US troops in Iraq, put at 145,000, does not include more than 126,000 private contractors. Author Jeremy Schahill calls it “the world’s most powerful mercenary army.” But that is polite. They are, in fact, hired hit men financed, enabled and paid by the people of the United States whether they want to or not. Under Bush, the US taxpayer no longer has a say in how his/her money is spent.

Scahill and filmmaker Robert Greenwald have told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that these so-called "contract workers", these hired killers murder with impunity and undermine the better efforts of US command and control.
...contract workers have been involved in — but not punished for — numerous scandals during the Iraq war, the pair claimed. These contractors were among the interrogators and translators who tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Greenwald said.

In one short period, senior military personnel documented 12 instances in which contract workers shot at Iraqi civilians, killing six, Scahill said, but no contractors were charged with crimes.

Contract employees were granted immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law by Paul Bremmer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority that ruled Iraq in 2003 and 2004, Scahill said. And they were not subject to US military law.

Truck drivers working for Halliburton routinely drove empty trucks across Iraq because the company is paid by the number of trips, not by the amount of cargo a truck carries, Greenwald said.

-- US House Panel Puts Iraq Contractor Abuse Claims ‘On the Record’
One of the more insidious falsehoods about Iraq has turned out to have been Bushco estimates of its cost. In 2002, George W. Bush himself predicted the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion —tops! To be expected —Bush was dead wrong. A report by the Democratic staff of the House Budget Committee now estimates that Bush's war of aggression in Iraq could cost the US $646 billion by 2015 —depending on the scope and duration of operations. Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University, estimates the cost of the war from one trillion to two trillion dollars!

Ongoing operations in Iraq were estimated at $5.6 billion per month in 2005. And costs have surely risen since then as the intensity of fighing increases accompanied by significant losses of materiel and maintenance.
The Bill So Far: Congress has already approved four spending bills for Iraq with funds totaling $204.4 billion and is in the process of approving a “bridge fund” for $45.3 billion to cover operations until another supplemental spending package can be passed, most likely slated for Spring 2006. Broken down per person in the United States, the cost so far is $727, making the Iraq War the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years.

Long-term Impact on US Economy: In August 2005, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the cost of continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at current levels would nearly double the projected federal budget deficit over the next ten years. According to current estimates, during that time the cost of the Iraq War could exceed $700 billion.

Economic Impact on Military Families: Since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 210,000 of the National Guard’s 330,000 soldiers have been called up, with an average mobilization of 460 days. Government studies show that about half of all reservists and Guard members report a loss of income when they go on active duty—typically more than $4,000 a year. About 30,000 small business owners alone have been called to service and are especially likely to fall victim to the adverse economic effects of military deployment.

The Iraq Quagmire: The Mounting Costs of War and the Case for Bringing Home the Troops, Institute for Policy Studies
The Bush administration has been able to keep the precise cost of the war a matter of guess work and estimates. But however much is wasted killing civilians in Iraq that is money that is not being spent educating Americans, providing for health care, fixing Social Security, rebuilding a deteriorating infrastructure, or addressing real threats to our environment.

However much has blown up in Iraq, it is lost forever to the victims of Bush's incompetence in the face of Katrina. It is lost forever to those millions losing retirements to corporate mismanagement and greed. It is lost forever to those unable to pay the high costs of health care, education, transportation, housing, and getting enough to eat each day.
US Budget and Social Programs: The Administration’s FY 2006 budget, which does not include any funding for the Iraq War, takes a hard line with domestic spending— slashing or eliminating more than 150 federal programs. The $204.4 billion appropriated thus far for the war in Iraq could have purchased any of the following desperately needed services in our country: 46,458,805 uninsured people receiving health care or 3,545,016 elementary school teachers or 27,093,473 Head Start places for children or 1,841,833 affordable housing units or 24,072 new elementary schools or 39,665,748 scholarships for university students or 3,204,265 port container inspectors.

Social Costs to the Military/Troop Morale: As of May 2005, stop-loss orders are affecting 14,082 soldiers—almost 10 percent of the entire forces serving in Iraq with no end date set for the use of these orders. Long deployments and high levels of soldier’s stress extend to family life. In 2004, 3,325 Army officer’s marriages ended in divorce—up 78 percent from 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion and more than 3.5 times the number in 2000.

Costs to Veteran Health Care: The Veterans Affairs department projected that 23,553 veterans would return from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005 and seek medical care. But in June 2005, the VA Secretary, Jim Nicholson, revised this number to 103,000. The miscalculation has led to a shortfall of $273 million in the VA budget for 2005 and may result in a loss of $2.6 billion in 2006.

Mental Health Costs: In July 2005 the Army’s surgeon general reported that 30 percent of US troops have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home from the Iraq War. Because about 1 million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.

The Iraq Quagmire: The Mounting Costs of War and the Case for Bringing Home the Troops, Institute for Policy Studies
Many delusions were promoted in order to commit this nation to aggressive war. In the short months after 9/11, Bush erected a strawman upon which to direct American frustration, anger, and vengeance —an “axis of evil” consisting of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. His intentions were made clear at the time. This "Axis of Evil" was responsible for world terrorism in general and our nation would wage war against it. Bush's speech was most notable, however, for what he did not say. Bush did not tell the American people that he had no intention of paying for the war. He would leave the deficit to future administrations and generations. Rather than expect his privileged base to pony up, he would reward their loyalty with several tax cuts. Nor are sons of daughters of that base required to serve their nation militarily. Bush's base gets a free ride as the rest of the nation bears the cost of war —in both lives and dollars.

If wars are not paid for upfront, they are paid for in the form of higher interest rates, prices, and lives. Wealth does not trickle down. But the effects of a falling dollar is felt by everyone. The exponential rise of wage and income inequality began with a vengeance in the Reagan 80's, most closely associated with the Reagan tax cut of 1982. Only the top 20 percent of the population benefited. Wage/income disparities have increased since then with only a short respite during Clinton's second term. The current trend began before a great wave of technical change and a computer revolution —none of which has benefited working Americans. Indeed, if you work for a living you have paid and continue to pay for Bush's war of aggression while Bush's base gets preferential treatment!

It is no coincidence that as prices increase, so, too, the national deficit. American credit abroad is dodgy. As the dollar continues to slide on world exchanges, not only gasoline prices increase but also prices of imported goods. Bush had said that he favors a strong dollar but, in fact, his administration has let the dollar slide, a cynical ploy designed to finance the Iraq folly upon the backs of working Americans. That it provides a moderate relief to US exporters is a bad trade off. What —other than death, torture and destruction —do we export these days?

Like Bush's mythical "Axis of Evil" the idea that a nation can wage a free war is an evil GOP fairy tale. Wars are always paid for, if not now, later, and in ways you won't like.

An update:
A pipeline shuts down in Alaska. Equipment failures disrupt air travel in Los Angeles. Electricity runs short at a spy agency in Maryland.

None of these recent events resulted from a natural disaster or terrorist attack, but they may as well have, some homeland security experts say. They worry that too little attention is paid to how fast the country's basic operating systems are deteriorating.

"When I see events like these, I become concerned that we've lost focus on the core operational functionality of the nation's infrastructure and are becoming a fragile nation, which is just as bad — if not worse — as being an insecure nation," said Christian Beckner, a Washington analyst who runs the respected Web site Homeland Security Watch (www.christianbeckner.com).

The American Society of Civil Engineers last year graded the nation "D" for its overall infrastructure conditions, estimating that it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to fix the problem.

"I thought [Hurricane] Katrina was a hell of a wake-up call, but people are missing the alarm," said Casey Dinges, the society's managing director of external affairs.

British oil company BP announced this month that severe corrosion would close its Alaska pipelines for extensive repairs. Analysts say this may sideline some 200,000 barrels a day of production for several months.

Then an instrument landing system that guides arriving planes onto a runway at Los Angeles International Airport failed for the second time in a week, delaying flights.

Those incidents followed reports that the National Security Agency (NSA), the intelligence world's electronic eavesdropping arm, is consuming so much electricity at its headquarters outside Washington that it is in danger of exceeding its power supply.

"If a terrorist group were able to knock the NSA offline, or disrupt one of the nation's busiest airports, or shut down the most important oil pipeline in the nation, the impact would be perceived as devastating," Beckner said. "And yet we've essentially let these things happen — or almost happen — to ourselves."

The Commission on Public Infrastructure at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, said in a recent report that facilities are deteriorating "at an alarming rate." ...

--Chuck McCutcheon, Newhouse News Service, Experts warn US is coming apart at the seams; becoming third world

Bush Plans Dictatorship

    "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

    George W. Bush

Bush uttered those very unfunny words on December 18, 2000. On that day the president-elect went to capitol hill to meet with Congressional leaders and emerged from the meeting flipping them and the American people this rhetorical bird.

The president is making good on those words and there hasn't been a peep out of Congress or the press. In a document released on May 9, 2007 entitled "National Continuity Policy," Bush makes good on his sick fantasy. In case of “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function” Bush will control the entire US government, not just the federal branch.

It isn't really surprising. Bush decides who is an enemy combatant, a person without legal rights, and who should be spied upon.

If ever there was a moment for conspiracy theories, this is it. Will there be a phony terror attack, or a declaration of war against Iran? We don't know what the trigger will be but it is time to be afraid.

Actually it is time for impeachment. Bush's unpopularity makes him particularly dangerous. So does the acquiescence of the media and the silence of the Democrats. State legislatures have the right to begin the impeachment process but they have been smacked down by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

We are screwed. The phrase may be inelegant, but it says it all. Maybe we will all end up in Guantanamo. Who knows? The National Continuity Policy contains "classified continuity annexes." WTF!? As I said, we are screwed.
Indeed, Bush has arrogated unto himself the power to interpret the Constitution. I suppose he can now just dismiss the Supreme Court. Already he claims the authority to re-write laws passed by Congress and denies Congress the authority to subpoena witnesses
It defines a “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the US population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency
And this just in from Bluebloggin'.

US Department of Interior Investigates Bush

Posted by nytexan on July 27th, 2007

How many investigations can one administration have? I suppose if you’re Bush and Cheney and you completely ignore laws, you could technically be investigated every month. Well this time it’s the US Department of Interior going after them for the Endangered Species Act.

Mother Jones

  • Two government entities are investigating the Bush administration over the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Christian Science Monitor reports the US Interior Department is reviewing the scientific integrity of decisions made by a political appointee, Julie MacDonald, who recently resigned under fire. Fish and Wildlife Service employees complained that MacDonald bullied, insulted, and harassed the professional staff to alter their biological reporting. The inspector noted that although she has no formal educational background in biology, she nevertheless labored long and hard editing, commenting on, and reshaping the endangered species program’s scientific reports from the field. Last week Fish and Wildlife announced that eight decisions MacDonald made under the ESA would be examined for scientific and legal discrepancies.
Legal discrepancies seem to be the standard operating procedure for the Bush administration.

Bush has a habit of putting incompetent people to oversee and bully scientist. This is exactly what Bush did with the national weather scientist so global warming would be watered down.

  • Meanwhile Congress is investigating evidence that Vice President Dick Cheney interfered with decisions involving water in California and Oregon resulting in a mass kill of Klamath River salmon, including threatened species. As the CSM reports, both episodes illustrate the Bush administration’s resistance to the law. Earlier, the Washington Post ran the story of Cheney’s personal interference in the water decision that killed the salmon in 2002:
  • In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake. Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in. First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.
An update on Bush's transparent attempts to undermine US obligations with regard to the Geneva Convention.

To date in the war on terrorism, including the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and all U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, America's losses total about 2 percent of the forces we lost in World War II and less than 7 percent of those killed in Vietnam. Yet we did not find it necessary to compromise our honor or abandon our commitment to the rule of law to defeat Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, or to resist communist aggression in Indochina. On the contrary, in Vietnam -- where we both proudly served twice -- America voluntarily extended the protections of the full Geneva Convention on prisoners of war to Viet Cong guerrillas who, like al-Qaeda, did not even arguably qualify for such protections.

The Geneva Conventions provide important protections to our own military forces when we send them into harm's way. Our troops deserve those protections, and we betray their interests when we gratuitously "interpret" key provisions of the conventions in a manner likely to undermine their effectiveness. Policymakers should also keep in mind that violations of Common Article 3 are "war crimes" for which everyone involved -- potentially up to and including the president of the United States -- may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions.

--P.X. Kelley and Robert F. Turner, War Crimes and the White House
Tipped off by Fuzzflash, I post the following video experience. Just as it is impossible to make meaningful statements about a syntax from within a syntax, we may find it impossible to make statements about our own culture. Perhaps the Ancient Mayans have shown us a non-verbal truth from outside our paradigm. The "text" is by William Borroughs but the video was produced and added by one who uses the label, Karma, who writes"
This is a tribute to both William Burroughs and Hiroshima. Its a video I have been wanting to put together for some time now and release on the day of concern.

61 Years ago to day Hiroshima felt the atom split in anger. Today lets remember both Hiroshima Nagasaki which followed on the 9th August 1945. Lets hope the lion never rages again.


Ah Pook The Destroyer


Additional resourcesDiscoveries
Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009

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